To operate a successful call center, agents and managers need to be mindful of each other. The most important thing for all employees working at call centers needs to be customer satisfaction, whether that be in inbound or outbound calls. This is where workforce management for call centers come into play. Workforce management, or more simply known as WFM, is a set of processes designed to reach and maintain operational efficiency. This can be done by ensuring that the correct number of agents, with the proper skill sets are staffed and working at the correct times.
The bottom line is that the overall goal of workforce management is to create the best possible working environment for all on the floor. Those call centers that are able to achieve this type of working environment will reap highly beneficial rewards such as reduced operational costs, low agent turnaround rates, and improved customer experiences. There are many aspects that must be put into place to establish this environment, and we will list the ones that are the most important.
Understanding Workforce Management in your Call Center
All call center management consists of the same basic parts, which include forecasting customer interactions, scheduling agents, forecasting dating, and managing daily activities. It’s important to note that these different parts are dependent on each other for improvement, and this cycle is always in constant motion. It’s vital to understand all basic parts of this cycle, learn how each of them benefit from each other, and how they will be used for business improvements.
- Forecasting- Forecasting is the backbone of the workforce management cycle. During the process of forecasting, the number of inbound calls is calculated, and predicted for the next few days, few weeks, and even few months. Forecasting will draw on weekly numbers and the history that your call center has experienced. By identifying trends and patterns over time, forecasting will become more accurate and easier to predict. Not only are calls forecasted, but so are emails, messages, texts, and social media interactions. Additionally, unforeseen or emerging trends need to also be incorporated into the forecast as well, impacting the future outcomes and numbers. This data will be placed into spreadsheets or files, which will aid in the stats becoming clearer, especially with multiple scenarios being taken into account.
- Scheduling- After forecasting is finished, scheduling is made possible. By using what forecasting had predicted, scheduling will determine what shifts and hours are needed to be covered at set intervals. This will involve having the proper staff available when customer interactions will be needed. Planning staff accordingly, and following the call patterns or skill sets needed, will result in a boost of services. By matching staff to the call patterns based on all the information that is forecasted, will aid in achieving workforce management and cost efficiencies.
- Assigning Agents- In order to meet the operational needs that will be defined by scheduling, agents must be scheduled and assigned accordingly to shifts This is where the delicate balance must come into play, because agents have to be scheduled so that they do not get burned out or overworked. Shift bidding can sometimes be a beneficial tool that will help alleviate overworked agents. Shift bidding takes into consideration each agent’s performance, call handling abilities, tenure, and other factors that will prove to be beneficial in setting a specific schedule. Additionally, agent preferences and policies need to be incorporated into the scheduling processes as well, which will be key to maximize engagement and customer satisfaction. Keeping track of all these variables will be taxing, and time consuming, but will be highly beneficial in the long run.
- Intraday management- The last component of workforce management is ensuring that all day to day tasks are being completed in the correct periods they are needed. Call centers should anticipate the unexpected to happen and schedule tasks that ensure will be taken care of. Part of the day to day management is ensuring that the agents are completing all that needs to be done during their shifts. This can also be referred to as adherence, and call centers will need to set appropriate targets. Sure this is a menial task, but in order to accommodate all that needs to be done, scheduling must be completed accordingly.
Key Components That Workforce Management Can Enhance
With agents now being expected to handle more customer calls and inquiries across multiple channels, workforce management is highly important for the functionality of your call center.
- Consistent Customer Experiences- When customers call into your business, they are looking for the same level of service, no matter who answers the call. Their expectations for each call is that they will be assisted quickly and effectively, while still forming a nice relationship with each agent. Call centers will quickly influence customers by providing quality agents for every call.
- Job Satisfaction- By taking time to schedule correctly and support your agents, employees will feel happy and capable of their jobs. Agents are increasingly relied on to handle more complex contacts, and being understaffed or not properly trained will cause stress and anger. When agent attrition is high, it can be a clear sign that employees might not be happy with their work environments. By establishing a scheduling system and managing their workforce, agents can maintain a work/life balance, and improve their overall job satisfaction.
- Budget Savings- Resource-related costs make up around three quarters of a call centers operating budget. How a manager plans, schedules and manages the resources will make or break a business’s budget. Workforce management will prevent labor to be overstaffed, while still maintaining the perfect amount of services to keep the center up and running smoothly.
- Operational Efficiency- Most of the time, management’s top goals are to deliver high-level services to customers. This must be done while properly allocating resources and watching costs. This can be done, with adequate training and scheduling, helping agents to meet all demands.
A Workforce Management Call Center Solution
With the correct and effective workforce management solutions in place, call centers are able to optimize their most valuable and expensive resources; their staff. Workforce solutions will use outside sources, machine learning, and automation to remove all the frustrations with manual calculations, feedback, adjustments, and time-consuming tasks, all for the improvement of staff. By simplifying adding a few of the tips we introduced in this article, your call centers efficiency will help drive all future business forward while empowering all agents.